PayPal: Google Stole Key Person, Technology Behind Google Wallet

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PayPal has filed a lawsuit alleging Google stole trade secrets and employees related to mobile payments. The California state court suit came on the same day that Google announced Google Wallet, its official entrance into the mobile payment space.

According to a report in Bloomberg, the suit alleges that Stephanie Tilenius, a former PayPal employee who defected to Google and was contractually prohibited from recruiting other PayPal workers, Facebook messaged and subsequently hired a key engineer, Osama Bedier.

Bedier "is now leading Google's efforts to bring point of sale technologies and services to retailers on its behalf," according to the complaint. "Bedier and Google have misappropriated PayPal trade secrets by disclosing them within Google and to major retailers."

In other words, the suit alleges that Google stole the key person and technology powering its mobile payments platform.

Who is that person? Osama Bedier was profiled in the April 2010 issue of Fast Company. His big idea was "to make mobile commerce and digital money a reality." Egyptian by birth, his family moved to Corvallis, Oregon, so that his father could work on a PhD at Oregon State University. He's been programming since grade school and did a BS in computer science at UC Berkeley. He joined PayPal in 2003 and only jumped to Google in February of 2011. He's now the VP of Mobile Payments at the Mountain View giant.

The small window between Bedier's arrival at Google and the launch of Google Wallet may raise some eyebrows. Given the timing of the suit and announcement, one gets the feeling this could become a nasty fight. If it turns that way, Bedier may be ready. He told Fast Company that "to pay his way through college," he was a bouncer at the 90s nightclub, the Roxbury in West Hollywood.

"That's the running joke around [PayPal]: I'm really a bouncer but at some point had a change of heart," Bedier said in 2010.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer calls Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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